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The story of the seducer was, if anything, more popular in Italy. Giacinto Andrea Cicognani's 1650 play Il convitato di pietra ('The Stone Guest') brought it to the attention of many Commedia dell'arte troupes who played it in the streets and theatres of that country. French play goers saw Molière's comedy Dom Juan ou le festin de pierre ('Dom Juan or the feast with the statue') fifteen years later. In 1736, the tale was again popular in Italy, thanks to Carlo Goldoni's Don Giovanni Tenorio, ossia il dissoluto ('Don Juan Tenorio or the Dissolute One').

Don Giovanni (Erwin Schrott) and Leporello (Kyle Ketelsen) in LA. Photo © 2007 Robert Millard
Don Giovanni (Erwin Schrott) and Leporello (Kyle Ketelsen) in LA. Photo © 2007 Robert Millard

Mozart's librettist for Il dissoluto punito o sia Don Giovanni ('The Dissolute Punished or Don Giovanni'), Lorenzo DaPonte, was born near Venice and had spent much time in that city. In 1787, he was undoubtedly aware that Giuseppe Bertati was writing a libretto for Giuseppe Gazzaniga's one-act opera Don Giovanni Tenorio o sia Il convitato di pietra which was to be seen on 5 February at that city's Teatro San Moisè. The legend of Don Juan was a fitting theme for the Venice of that era. It was said that there even the clergy indulged in 'a little Mass in the morning, a little gamble in the afternoon and a little lady in the evening.'

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Copyright © 2 December 2007 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA


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